Germany

Germany

RENEWABLES KEEPING CLEAR OF ELECTION POLITICS

The federal parliament is reviewing the Electricity Feed Law (EFL) which forms the basis for the renewables market in Germany and is under utility attack. Surprisingly, though, it appears not to matter to the review which particular party emerges on top after this month's general election. The ruling CDU, and the SPD in opposition, are both promising to continue with the EFL. The CUD is also promising to reduce the CO2 emissions in Germany and the SPD says it will give privileged planning status to wind farms sited inland.

Germany's Electricity Feed Law (EFL) -- which forms the basis of the country's renewable energy market -- is up for review by parliament at the turn of the year. Surprisingly, though, it appears not to matter to the review which party emerges on top after this month's general election. The EFL obliges grid operators to accept renewables produced electricity and pay for it at a fixed price -- in the case of wind at 90% of the end consumer price of electricity.

In the build-up to the review, the German renewables organisations and the farming federation are calling for an increase in the rates of pay -- in the case of wind up to 95% of the end consumer of electricity -- as well as an economic tariff for commercially operated wind projects at inland sites and a new deal on grid connection costs. However, the German utilities association, VDEW, and the Federation of Industry are strongly against the EFL which they consider to be an underhand subsidy system. They are lobbying for it to be abolished.

Wind proponents are reasonably optimistic that the review of the EFL will fall in their favour. The government has already increased the rate of payment for hydro electricity from 75% to 80%. This is interpreted as a sign that should the present Conservative Christian Democrat led government (CDU) be returned to power after the election on October 16, it will ward off the demands of the VDEW and BDI.

The CDU is also aware that a follow up conference to the influential 1992 Rio world climate summit meets in Berlin in March.The party is well aware, for the sake of its credibility with voters, that the party must be seen to be actively doing something to fulfil its promise of reducing German CO2 emissions by 25% to 30% by the year 2005 compared with 1987 levels. As Uwe Carstensen, chairman of the German Wind Energy Association puts it: " I can't imagine the politicians will allow the gulf between word and deed to grow any bigger than it is now."

Should the Social-Democrats (SPD) achieve a breakthrough and take over the reins of power, Rudold Scharping would become the new chancellor. He has declared, in an interview with German wind magazine Wind Energie Aktuell that the EFL would be maintained and even extended to cover combined heat and power plant as well. Ironically he also stated that the SPD would introduce legislation giving wind turbines in the countryside privileged status in planning law. Only recently it was the Social Democrat dominated Upper House which rejected a change in the building law containing just this clause.

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